back to article Obama unfurls master plan for US cybersecurity

On his first full-day as US President, Barack Obama on Wednesday outlined plans to declare the country's computer infrastructure a national asset that will be protected by a cyber advisor who will report directly to the president. Part of a broader strategy laid out on the newly revamped website for securing US …


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  1. Coalescence


    The initiative would involve private industry and academia "to develop and deploy a new

    generation of secure hardware and software."

    -- isn't that called unix?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obama can't even function without his Blackberry...

    According to Mr. Obama, he can't fucntion without his Blackberry. What do you suppose he and his staff will do in a crisis if their electronic toys are inoperable? Perhaps they'll wait for a memo - like they did on the U.S. economy. That memo took 12 months to arrive. I think ICBMs fly faster than that, right?

  3. Aaron


    I hope this includes finally embracing IPv6 for the masses.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @ Reeto

    Don't you Unix facists ever get tired of trolling?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I hope one of the first actions is to make sure all systems actually have passwords.

    What's the latest on Gary McKinnon anyway?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    @Obama can't even @ Obama can't even function without his Blackberry

    I'm sure that if his Blackberry was rendered useless, he would find a way to adapt.

    I'd much rather have a president that embraces technology and uses it to its full effect than one that doesn't know a Blackberry from a dingleberry. (see previous regime)

  7. ShaggyDoggy

    No more bloody Obama PLEASE

    I've already OD'd on Obama0hype.

    Drop it please.



  8. Chris Miller
    Thumb Down

    Not Invented Here

    Working with the private sector to establish "tough new standards for cyber security and physical resilience."

    Just what the world needs, another new standard. Someone should tell him about ISO 27001 - 85 US organisations already registered.

  9. null

    What I'd Do

    If I were president, I'd make it mandatory for all public schools to start teaching basic computer courses starting in elementary school. Students should be taught computer science along side their math courses. I don't just mean "This is how you use a mouse" or "This is how you write a document in Word" either. All students should be taught how computers work on a low level and the fundamentals of programming. It's as fundamental in the real world as math and science and it's only going to get more important with time. Just as you often hear teachers say "name one job where you don't use math" soon it'll be "name one job where you don't use a computer," if that isn't already the case.

    It's impossible to understand security unless you know how the system fundamentally works, which most people don't. As long as the general public doesn't understand the tools they're using, we're going to be dealing with botnets, data theft, massive spam, etc.

  10. Hollerith


    Um...he's just been sworn in as the President of the United States. He's going to be around for a while. People are interested in what he's doing. Better get used to it.

  11. Pierre

    @ Unix

    >"to develop and deploy a new generation of secure hardware and software."

    >-- isn't that called unix?

    Well, "secure software" (though probably not really possible, let's say "less insecure software") would certainly need ditching MS altogether until they fix their shit. Not that we should expect such a move from an US gov. As the saying goes, "what is good for MS is good for America". But most advanced countries are actually in the process of doing that, to some extent, so again, maybe the US will follow suit one day? One can dream. (or MS could actually fix their shit, but seing what they did with OXML, I wouldn't hold my breath).

    At ShaggyDoggy: chill mate, you're not on /b here.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Polite applause

    Seems sensible.

    Now if they'd only do that with their financial sector the world might be a better place?

  13. Mark McGuire
    Thumb Down


    Move to Russia, they haven't had any pictures of Obama on the fronts of their newspapers (supposedly the only major country in the world to do so). Or you could live in a hole for the next couple of years.

  14. ShaggyDoggy

    @ Hollerith

    Correct, currently I do not reside in the US so I expect the UK based news etc coverage at least to give it a rest sometime soon. After all this is not the b51st state

    wait .......

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds OK I guess

    That "shutting down untraceable internet payment schemes" is a little ominous, though. I understand why the gov wouldn't want these to exist, but some people have legitimate reasons for wanting their privacy. Cash is relatively anonymous, but it's hard to get even that level of privacy if you want to buy anything online since most everything is done with credit cards. As someone who has looked into this in the past, I'd have to say the options are already fairly limited, which "schemes" are they planning to shut down, I wonder?

  16. Anonymous Coward

    cyber czar?

    I'll believe it when they give it a real name, not just two retarded and meaningless words stuck together. If Obama isn't like Bush, why does he use the same vocabulary? Why don't they just ask that Facebook CEO guys what the title should be...

    I'm Cyber Czar... BITCH!

    Or maybe we could just go with "Information Security Officer" or some other title that grown-ups might not be embarrassed to use.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Ha ha

    Secure the US (home of Microsoft) against all cyber-attacks?

    A Reaganesque star-wars fantasy, surely?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anonymous Money Moving

    "which "schemes" are they planning to shut down, I wonder?"

    Look into "electronic gold" and Pecunix. This could be what they're talking about.

  19. Stuart Elliott


    To be fair, he's a damned sight more interesting than our own politicians, I actually enjoyed listening to his speech, more than I can say about anything said in Prime Ministers question time for the last 20 years.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    RE: Haha

    Had it not been for the collapse of the Soviet Union and the decrease in defense related spending, Star Wars might have become reality a lot sooner. As it is, the U.S. is very close to the operational deployment of directed energy weapons.

    Reagan was a visionary. He wanted to move the US past the insane, WWI attrition style MAD toward a strategy of actually WINNING a nuclear war. Ballistic missile defense is to space based warfare what maneuver warfare is to ground warfare. It also addresses scenarios where massive retaliation might not be a strategically viable option, such as when strategically insignificant adversary launches a limited nuclear strike. BMD could prevent WWIII and a global apocalypse in such a scenario. Guess what, this type of scenario is right in line with the post-Soviet we face today. Maybe Reagan wasn't so stupid after all?

  21. MYOFB

    Correct me if I'm wrong

    "Funding for research and development to harden the US cyber infrastructure. The initiative would involve private industry and academia "to develop and deploy a new generation of secure hardware and software." . . .

    The funding for this R & D exercise will come from sacking all the idiots who allowed McKinnon to walk in the front door, thus allowing the employment of personnel who actually *know how to* secure a network of such magnitude!!

    "Working with the private sector to establish "tough new standards for cyber security and physical resilience." . . .

    While at the same time the 'Private Sector' will be working to 'Secure' their share price and the 'Resilience' of their profits on the back of 'Government' investment . . . For 'Government' read Tax Payer!!

    "Preventing corporate cyber-espionage to protect the nation's trade secrets and research and development" . . .

    My personal opinion is: Tthe 'China Hack' is completely true!!

    "Developing a strategy to minimize opportunities for cybercrime, including "shutting down untraceable internet payment schemes." . . .

    Looks like the Lads from Lagos have got the attention of the Prez of the USA but I don't think Western Union will be too happy!! . . . OR . . . It could be a veiled threat to so they won't try to re-introduce a bill to prevent FOI requests on MP's expenses that are sucked out of the coffers to fund the 'Grand Cayman Ball' or such like!

    "Mandating standards for securing personal data including the institution of "a common standard for security such data across industries." . . .

    Shouldn't that be: 'security of' OR 'securing' . . . "such data across industries"? That was just nit-picking!! What the sentence/phrase means is . . . "Look, if we're gonna do a Phorm job, we need to be singing from the same hymn sheet to secure as much of all that lurrrvvvly personal data for all of our misguided needs and deeds!!"

    That's just my take on this El Reg article and it has probably caused offense to some but what I find most offensive is this:

    "Certainly, the President will need advising on this issue," said Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer for BT. "How he gets it matters less than that he gets it."

    Oh phor Phucks sake, Phorget it!! You get into bed with Phorm Phuckers then you choose to be Phucked over. "How he gets it matters less than that he gets it" Yeah, sure, I agree BUT not phrom YOU!!

    Maybe Phil Zimmerman but I guess you're still acting out your role in 'Sneakers'!!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Cyber Czar?

    Please, please don't tell me hes going to offer it to Bill Gates...

  23. Richard Porter

    Cyber Tzar?

    Offer the job to McKinnon!

  24. Player_16
    Black Helicopters

    @Brent Gardner

    Yes that is a rather unimaginative title, like...

    Homeland Security.

    (That sounds like some 3rd party rent-a-pig agency that trolls around to your business late at night with nothing more than a torch and a 2-way radio and a stack of cards to push trough the front door.)

    cyber czar.

    (I keep imagining some bloke in some heavily brassed and tassels-on-the shoulders wearing some shiny silver pointy helmet in chaps looking like General Patton standing in front of some symbol with that 'Mussolini' look.)

  25. Graham Marsden

    The next part of Obama's plan...


  26. rasputinsDog
    Thumb Down

    more bureaucracy + more insane laws != more security

    Just what we need here in the U.S., more bureaucracy. Why not just pressure the industries and agencies to fix their own flaws. You know this is just going lead to more insane laws.

    Anonymity is something that the U.S. gov't wants to eliminate altogether.

  27. E


    Well, it might in part mean statically linked, module-less Linux kernels. The problem is bigger than that though. UNIX has never been free of exploits. IIRC the first really big worm exploited a Sendmail hole, running on... UNIX! That worm nearly shut down the Internet back in the day.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Cyber Czar

    Cyber Czar - a reanimated Romanov zombie with bionic-cybernetic enhancements. The idea is too awesome to pass it.

    Who's going to do it? Marvel? DC? Dark Horse?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give Schneier the Job

    most of his work and insights are fairly sensible. He is a bit of privacy advocate as well, so we may see less centralised databases, and actually track the access to the databases.

    I am not as bothered about technical crackers, what is more worrying are governments, and public servants using the databases for their own ends. If access automatically informed the owner of the data, that would significantly reduce data breaches, and it would make people fear unauthorised access.

    Schneier is a maths bod, who finally got the mist from his eyes, and worked out it is people, the maths holds and has held for a long time, sure it can go, but it is people not the maths that is the problem when it comes to most compromises.

  30. J

    @actually WINNING a nuclear war

    Nobody wins a nuclear war, you fool...

  31. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: Cyber Czar.

    Ideally there should be more than one. That way we can have "Czar Wars".......

    No need to push.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    @AC 04:09

    If we're talking cybered up Romanovs, it can only be covered by the Galaxy's greatest comic, the source of all thrillpower in the universe.

    I speak of course of this green and pleasent land's own 2000 AD.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course its going to be a Czar!

    What else would you expect from a neo-marxist?

  34. Trevor Pott Gold badge

    @actually WINNING a nuclear war

    You can't WIN a nuclear war. Even coming CLOSE to one means you have failed.

    To have to fight a war at all is to have failed in all sensible and reasonable attempts at a negotiated peace or compromise. This means that to fight a war at all, you are a failure, and have allready lost.

    To fight a NUCLEAR war is completely senseless. At least if you are a psychopath, you can console yourself during a regular war with the idea that you now "rule" the lands and peoples you brutally conquered. You can't "rule" a radioactive wasteland, so it's fail even for the most insane of leaders.

    Less videogames for you. More watching the videos of people dying of radiation poisoning until the mesage sinks in.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "You can't win a nuclear war"

    "You can't WIN a nuclear war. Even coming CLOSE to one means you have failed."

    This is not true, especially in a modern climate where a strategically insignificant rival (North Korea, Pakistan, Iran) launches a limited number of missiles at you. When Reagan announced SDI, nuclear proliferation was well underway. China, India, and Pakistan all had the technology. BMD gives you the option to respond without prompting a full-scale nuclear war by launching a massive retaliatory strike. "Preserving" MAD was a STUPID policy during the Cold War and in today's climate it's completely absurd.

    "To have to fight a war at all is to have failed in all sensible and reasonable attempts at a negotiated peace or compromise. This means that to fight a war at all, you are a failure, and have allready lost."

    So you're saying wars can't be won at all? Yes, they most certainly can. The Gulf War is a very good example of a clean win. There's always a level of loss, and averting war is almost always the best outcome, but sometimes it can't be avoided. A nation ought to be able to defend itself and be able to win, not just hope for a tie.

    "To fight a NUCLEAR war is completely senseless."

    It's not senseless if an adversary has just launched a nuclear attack against you for whatever reason. Would it make more sense to throw your hands in the air and say "Aw, fuck it! We all gotta go some time" while you get nuked? You could argue that launching a first strike is senseless, but sometimes people don't behave in a manner you perceive to be sensible and you have to be prepared.

    "At least if you are a psychopath, you can console yourself during a regular war with the idea that you now "rule" the lands and peoples you brutally conquered. You can't "rule" a radioactive wasteland, so it's fail even for the most insane of leaders."

    The idea isn't to march in and take some radioactive wasteland. It's to protect your country from becoming one (at least for US/NATO).

  36. Trevor Pott Gold badge

    @Anonymous Coward 21:21

    Well, I have used Vista. It's horrid. On the few occasions I have to pull that horrid abomination out from under the pile of paper (right beside that macbook) where it belongs, I am amazed ever time at how unrelentingly terrible it is.

    Vista's Shell is a shrieking horror trapped in the nether planes between a (mostly) useable interface such as XP/Gnome and the developer-driven (and focused) unusability that is KDE 4. Someone took a left turn at the hallway marked "metaphor for information usage and retrieval" and went skipping off into some mental island of Dr Moreau to breed this mutant catastrophe.

    I am not sure what cerebral dysfunction seems to have crept into the once sane mind of modern GUI developers, but they left raw functionality behind. Many, (if not most!) users don't care about flashy bling, or a spinny box, we don't care about a transparent window, or your new idea on how the desktop of file explorer "should" be used. We care about using the TOOLS we have in front of us to accomplish the tasks we need to accomplish with the minimum of fuss, bother, and thought. We should be focused on the task at hand, not how to beat our computer into submission long enough that it will obey. The arrogant assumption by those peddling this trash to the world that we will all of retrain and relearn everything we know (and that has by now become instinctual,) every few years is beyond asinine.

    Vista's bastard explorer shell and its terrible network file bug can both die in the most horrible way possible, please and thank you. That whole "ribbon bar" bull can eat 10,000 piles of dung. The KDE developers can get off their elitist towers and let me use my damned desktop the way I have used it for 15 years, and I don't give a rat's arse how much "better" you think your "containers" crap is. Windows 7 and Apple OSX can take their "dock" idea and shove it somewhere highly unpleasant.

    The next person who tries to convince me hiding standard frequently accessed panels and information (like my network settings!) behind a half dozen more mouse clicks, and a shag rug’s worth of obfuscation, please do us all a favor, and don’t procreate. That kind of blind faith in the face of unerring stupidity shouldn’t be passed on.

    I'm not against innovations in the GUI, but I am against "innovations" that cost me time, or worse yet, flat out don't work. (Vista Explorer/Shell, I'm looking at you.) The bling, and the whiz-bang, well, sell it to the easily amused, but by the gods, let us at least turn that wasteful crap off.

    So have to use Vista? Yes, it's terrible, and so are the interfaces for most of the new GUIs. Somewhere, the devs left behind the realization that the vast majority of PCs are used by businesses or "prosumers" who care far, far more about a stable PC that runs the software they need, works with the devices they want, is fast, and lives for at least 5 years before becoming obsolete. We don't use them to be entertained by a goddamn transparency. (In other words: until they develop a far more business oriented interface, they can pry XP and Gnome from my cold, dead hands.)

    This isn’t about what the developers think is best. Piss on the developers. If they want to introduce a new metaphor for dealing with information, good on them, but leave us the choice of dealing with things as we are used to. “Close enough” simply isn’t. The problem isn’t new things, it’s removing the CHOICE. Like taking away my Up arrow, or not allowing me to nuke the ribbon, and use a bloody menu instead. (Or drag things on to my KDE desktop, and have them behave properly!)

    The argument stands: If you don’t like it don’t buy it/use it.

    Well people the world over didn’t, AND IT BLOODY WELL SHOWS.

    Thank you, and have an excellent weekend.

    Defending yourself isn't "winning a war," it's simply preventing the other side from conquering you. I've no issue with the ability to shoot down small-scale attacks. That's good, and I applaud it, especially is such technology were readily available to all mankind to the preserve the freedom of all citizens of the world from oppression at the hands of *any* power. The concept that there is *ever* a justification for the offensive use of nuclear weapons, "western power" or not is sheer lunacy, however. You can't "win" a nuclear war. If you fire a nuke, you have lost. Period.

    The job nations like the US should be playing is that of the international “grown up”: helping the less fortunate nations “grow up” and become self-sufficient within bounds acceptable by the local culture. (Instead of the “grown up” trying to push their culture on the other nation.) The US should stand up to international bullies, not encourage or fund them, and certainly not become one itself.

    Wars are a failure to fully discovery and exercise the myriad other options available to avoid them. They are not, I agree with you, always avoidable with the knowledge available beforehand. We all must accept that, but any war needs to be looked at as failures nonetheless, so that we don’t fail to learn from our mistakes, and avoid repeating them.

    Just to be clear, the myriad options available do, in my mind include everything from negotiation and concessions to targeted “strategic eliminations” of individuals or groups who assert power, but are unable to wield it while protecting the rights of thier citizens as set forth in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. These sort of moves should be coordinated by the “grown ups” in the international community, and most importantly: NO UNILATERAL ACTION SHOULD BE TOLERATED. Not form the US, not from some African tin-pot dictator, not from anyone. Standing up to a bully trying to harm you is nothing more than that. Beating a man over the head with a brick so you can take his water/food/oil/etc. is a failure at the outset.

    War isn’t glory, and it isn’t victory, and you don’t win any war, nuclear or otherwise.

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